COVID in Haldimand-Norfolk: Driven by community spread, cases doubling each month

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The COVID-19 pandemic claimed another life in Haldimand-Norfolk this week, with the health unit announcing on Thursday that a 35th resident has died of the disease.

No information was provided about the deceased.

There are 83 active COVID-19 cases in Haldimand-Norfolk, a region that has recorded 898 lab-confirmed positive tests since March.

The story of the pandemic has changed in this rural community, where for months the vast majority of cases were tied to large-scale outbreaks at Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville and Scotlynn Group’s Vittoria farm.

Known cases of the disease in the general population were rare.

But as 2020 draws to a close, the health unit is reporting an even split between cases linked to outbreaks and those whose origin is unknown.

This comes as community spread of the virus has shown a marked increase over the past three months.

From 12 new cases in September, the health unit reported 57 positive cases in October. That figure doubled to 114 in November and doubled again to 228 in December.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health, said that until the vaccine is widely rolled out, it is imperative for residents to stay at home save for essential trips, keep a safe distance from others, wear a mask when needed and wash their hands frequently.

The majority of Haldimand-Norfolk residents infected by the novel coronavirus — 775 of 898 — are considered to have recovered from their bout with COVID-19, while five people who had the disease were determined to have died of other causes.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator